If a member of FPS 2015 or a dependant is not satisfied with a decision made by a fire and rescue authority (or if there has been a failure to make a decision), there are various rights of appeal available.
You can find the different appeal pathways below.
There is an appeal procedure in place for anyone who is dissatisfied with a determination based on a medical opinion, where the individual believes the fault lies in the medical opinion.
For other grievances, the authority must have arrangements in place for internal dispute resolution procedures (IDRP), based on the requirements of the Pensions Act 1995.
If the authority is considering whether to make an award of an ill-health pension to a firefighter or early payment of a deferred pension through ill-health, they must first obtain the written opinion of an independent qualified medical practitioner (IQMP). This will determine whether the person is permanently disabled and unable to complete the duties of their role and, if so, whether they would be capable of any other regular employment.
The authority must notify the individual of their final decision and supply a copy of the medical opinion on which the conclusion is based.
If the person is dissatisfied with the award and believes the problem lies in the medical opinion, then they can appeal against the opinion to a Board of Medical Referees. Before this stage, however, if the member provides new evidence of a medical nature and the member and the authority agree, the IQMP can be asked to review the medical opinion in the light of the new evidence.
A similar process applies if an ill-health award is reviewed and the person is dissatisfied with the outcome and in any other circumstances where a decision has been made, based on medical evidence.
Internal dispute resolution procedures (IDRP)
After the death of a member, dependent, or pension credit member, the IDRP can be used to seek a resolution if you disagree with a decision made by the fire and rescue authority. However, this option would only be available to you if the decision is unrelated to a medical opinion or is in respect of a non-medical aspect of the opinion give.
The grievance will be considered by the authority and a written response made. Full details of local medical appeal procedures, the IDRP process, and relevant time limits can be supplied by your authority.
The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS)
The Pension Advisory Service is an independent voluntary organisation which provides information and guidance on pension matters. They are available at any time to assist occupational pension scheme members and beneficiaries in connection with any pension query they may have. They can also assist with any difficulty which members may have failed to resolve with pension scheme administrators themselves.
TPAS cannot enforce pensions action, but could recommend a person to put their case to the Pensions Ombudsman. Their service is free and they can be contacted at:
The Pensions Advisory Service
11 Belgrave Road,
London SW1V 1RB
Telephone helpline: 0300 123 1047
The Pensions Ombudsman
The Pensions Ombudsman can investigate a pension scheme member’s complaint of maladministration or a dispute of fact or law between a scheme member and pension scheme managers or employer. However, the Ombudsman cannot help if court proceedings have begun in respect of the dispute or if an appeal has been made to the Board of Medical Referees under FPS 2015 rules.
The Ombudsman will expect the case to have first been put through Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures. A complainant who writes to the Ombudsman direct will normally be requested to have the case dealt with initially by The Pensions Advisory Service.
The Pensions Ombudsman can be contacted at:
The Office of the Pensions Ombudsman,
11 Belgrave Road,
London SW1V 1RB
The Pensions Regulator
The Pensions Regulator is a regulatory body which came into existence on 6 April 2005 having been set up under the Pensions Act 2004. It ensures that pension scheme members’ interests are protected and that schemes comply with the law.
For example, the Public Service Pensions Act 2013 includes requirements for the governance and administration of public service schemes (including FPS 2015), and for oversight by The Pensions Regulator. Fire and rescue authorities must comply with The Pension Regulator’s Code of Practice No.14 which sets out a framework for governance and administration.
At central level, there must be a Scheme Advisory Board and at local level a Pension Board with responsibility for assisting the authority (scheme manager) to comply with scheme regulations and other legislation relating to the governance of the Scheme.
The Local Pension Board must have an equal number of employee and employer representatives. They must be conversant with the scheme rules and have an understanding of the law relating to pensions. It is not a decision-making board although it can review decisions made under the scheme rules.
The Pensions Regulator deals with issues about pension schemes as a whole. It does not deal with queries about an individual’s pension benefits, but recommends that a person seeking free information and advice on all types of pensions should approach The Pensions Advisory Service.
Pensions Tracing Service
If you have previous pension rights held in a pension arrangement but have lost contact with the administrators, the Department for Work and Pensions offer a Pension Tracing Service. They can be contacted at:
The Pension Service
9 Mail Handling Site A,
Wolverhampton WV98 1LU